Frequently asked questions
Why are you doing this?
We are dedicated volunteers who want to share our love of the New York Harbor with our community. It's that simple.
This is the greatest thing I have ever seen. How can I help?
The best way to help and have even more fun is to volunteer. If you can't give your time, your monetary contribution can help keep us going (see our Donate page for more info).
Is kayaking ever cancelled due to weather?
Yes, but very rarely. Kayaking is a water sport, after all, so a little rain won’t stop us. Heavier rain, strong Winds and lightning will. Check our Twitter updates to be sure. As a general rule, rain 30 minutes prior to the start time cancels all events.
Can I rent a kayak? What does it cost?
No! You can't rent anything because everything is 100% free. We know this is New York, and people think that there must be a catch, but there isn't. All the equipment is paid for by donations, all the labor is provided for free by the volunteers. If you want to contribute, you are welcome to, but it's entirely optional.
I have my own boat. Can I store it in the boathouse?
Short answer, No. If you are just looking for a place to store your boat, check our Links page and contact some of the commercial operators on the river. Several of them offer storage for a fee. For a fee in addition to membership, the Sebago Canoe Club and Yonkers Paddling program also offer storage.
What does it cost?
Our weekly walk-up programs are free - but we do appreciate donations. We have a tip jar on the beach and a PayPal for donations here (the PayPal link goes to our fiscal sponsor, The Gowanus Dredgers).
Can I reserve a time or a particular kayak?
No. Everything is first come, first serve. On beautiful, warm Sundays, wait times can be up to 45 minutes, but this is rare. We are generally less busy on Thursdays.
What should I wear?
Bring a bathing suit, or shorts and a T-Shirt. If you have flip-flops or shoes that can get wet, bring them. It's a good idea to have some sort of shoes that you can wear when walking on the beach - It's New York!
Will I get wet?
Yes, there is a high probability since there is usually a minimal amount of water finding it way into the kayaks. In hot weather, you will naturally dry off quickly. Your feet will get wet - and likely your bum.
Do you have lockers?
No, we don't. People generally leave their stuff in plastic storage boxes near our sign-up stand... but we are not responsible for any loss or damage.
Do you have changing rooms or showers?
Not really. We have a curtain to change behind and a hose to rinse off with.
I would like to bring a group to go kayaking. Is that possible?
Yes, but we ask that you limit your group to ten or fewer in order not to overwhelm the public program. You line up with everyone else for the walk-up kayaking and wait your turn. If it is not crowded, you and your friends may all get out on the water at the same time, but there are no guarantees.
What kind of kayaks do you have?
All our public kayaks are sit-on-top-kayaks. The boats are unsinkable, and self-bailing. Any water that splashes up on the boat drains out the holes in the bottom. If you capsize, you can just climb back on top and continue to paddle. Because the boats are self-bailing, the seat of your pants will get wet while you paddle.
Can I paddle with a friend?
We have both single and double kayaks. A single kayak accommodates one person, a double kayak requires two people. Some of our double kayaks have a space where a small child can ride between the two adult paddlers.
Can I bring kids?
ABSOLUTELY BRING YOUR KIDS! We have personal flotation devices ("life jackets") for kids of all sizes, and even a few smaller paddles for school-age kids. However, kids under the age of 14 are not allowed to paddle alone - they need an adult to go in the boat with them. Anyone under the age of 18 needs a parent or guardian to sign a waiver before they can paddle, and the guardian must stay on the beach while their child is on the water. Kids who arrive without a parent or guardian to sign will not be allowed on the water.
What is the weight limit?
There is no weight limit; we have successfully accommodated some very heavy folks.
What are the nearest subway stations?
The B61 bus runs close by, and it's about a 30 minute walk (or 8 minute Citibike ride) from either the Carroll Street station or the Smith/9th Street station for the F/G. We're also very close to the NYC ferry stop at Atlantic Basin. Check our Directions page for more info.
Do you give lessons
No, we don't give lessons. But there are other kayaking operations in the city that do - Check our Links page.
Are you open other days?
No. Our boats are only available during our walk-ups, special events and occasionally for private groups.
I am an expert kayaker, and I want to go out of the embayment and into the river on my own. Is that okay?
No, you cannot take one of our kayaks and leave the embayment, regardless of your skill level. If you want to do that, we suggest that you contact one of the several commercial kayak operators in the city.
I have my own boat. Can I launch it at Valentino Pier?
Yes. The beach at Valentino park is part of the New York City Water Trail and is available for the general public to launch from, but you must purchase a permit from the Park’s Department. The permit is available here.
Do you offer long trips in the river outside of the embayment?
At this time, we only do trips for and with volunteers.